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Runners-up: Jim Schwartz, Detroit; Tom Coughlin, New York Giants; Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati; Mike McCarthy, Green Bay; Chan Gailey, Buffalo.

ASSISTANT COACH: Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator, Cincinnati.

Cincinnati has had some defensive tools in recent years, most notably CB Leon Hall, but there are no stars on the Bengals’ D. Except, perhaps, for the guy dialing up the coverages and the blitzes and the intensity.

Zimmer is doing it with the likes of Rey Maualuga, Jonathan Fanene and Geno Atkins, and the Bengals rank near the top in most defensive categories.

Runners-up: Rob Chudzinski, offensive coordinator, Carolina; Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator, San Francisco; Curtis Modkins, offensive coordinator, Buffalo.

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay.

As the NFL has evolved into a quarterback-driven league, that position has dominated the headlines, the highlight shows and this award. Unquestionably the best QB in the league this year is Rodgers, who has parlayed his superb playoff run last winter, his Super Bowl MVP trophy and an unmatched sense of confidence _ call it swagger _ into a spectacular start.

Some would say the current version of Rodgers is better than any particular version of predecessor Brett Favre during his record-setting career. If Rodgers keeps this up, the full version could surpass Favre, too.

Runners-up: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit; Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets; Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore; LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh; Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants; Matt Forte, Chicago.